By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The 2012-2013 Holy Cross men's hockey team returns 17 players from a squad that went 20-15-4 overall (15-8-4 Atlantic Hockey) last year for the sixth 20-win season in program history and the most wins since 2005-2006 when the Crusaders won a school record 27 games. The Crusaders also welcome 11 freshmen. HC will be looking to earn its third ever invitation to the NCAA Tournament.
Last year, the Crusaders led Atlantic Hockey with 120 goals and 3.08 goals per game as Holy Cross went 17-3-3 (.804) when scoring three or more goals. The Crusaders return four of their top five goal scorers as the team's offense is expected to be strong again this year. "A big strength of the team is our forwards," said head coach Paul Pearl. "We scored a lot of goals last year and have strong forwards returning."
The Crusaders' offense was spread out last season as 24 Crusaders had at least one point with 19 scoring at least one goal. This year's team is also expected to have a lot of depth. "Last year we had a lot of different players score goals and we need to continue that this season," said Pearl. "I think we have a lot of depth offensively. We have four strong lines that will make opposing teams have to decide which line to put their top defensive players against."
The team has been successful in finding the back of the net recently because of its ability to score different ways. "Last year our goals were from a couple of sources," said Pearl. "Primarily we were good on the power play. The second thing was we were really good at our rush offense. We were very good at attacking because our transition play was strong. We have a lot of great shooters and players who are good at rushing the net so that should help us score goals."
Defensively the Crusaders will be looking towards their veteran players but will also need to see major contributions from their freshmen defenders. "We graduated four seniors on defense that saw a significant amount of playing time," said Pearl. "We have a talented group of returning players and freshmen. A key to our success will be how quick our freshman defenders can adapt to college hockey. Our transition game depends on our defense so this will be very important."
Last season, the Crusaders ranked third on the power play in Atlantic Hockey and are expected to be strong again. "We have a lot of players who have seen a ton of ice time on the power play so that should be a strength," said Pearl. The Crusaders were fourth on the penalty kill in the league last year. "The penalty kill will be a work in progress because we will have a lot of new defenders playing on the penalty kill."
The Crusaders will be led by senior captain Erik Vos (Carlisle, Ontario) and senior assistant captain Rob Linsmayer (Winnetka, Ill.). "Vos has a lot of maturity and poise," said Pearl. "He is really a guy that the other players look up to. When he needs to say something he will, and everyone will listen. Linsmayer is the ultimate lead by example captain. I have not had anyone who has played as hard as him. The work ethic he brings every day is great to watch. The players can see how much this team means to him and how much he cares."
The leadership of the senior class of Kyle Fletcher (Kanata, Ontario), Linsmayer, Brandon Nunn (Fairport, N.Y.), Thomas Tysowsky (Amherst, N.Y.), Vos and senior Evan Zych (Kilbride, Ontario) will be very important this season. "The leadership of our seniors this year is huge because of the fact that we have 11 freshmen," said Pearl. "We need everyone to be a valuable member of the team and the seniors need to show that by leading by example."
The Crusaders will play a total of 17 home games at the Hart Center this season. Last year, Holy Cross went 12-3-2 at home. The Crusaders will also play a game at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass., versus Yale on Dec. 30. The Crusaders begin the regular season on the road versus AIC on Oct. 16. The home-opener is against UConn on Oct. 26.
Here is a look at the 2012-2013 Crusaders by position.
Returning 10; Lost 5; Freshmen 6
The Crusaders return a veteran group of forwards. Last year's leader in goals and points, junior Adam Schmidt (Warrington, Pa.), returns as he posted a career-best 18 goals and a career-best 37 points. He was second on the team with a career-best 19 assists. Schmidt earned second team All-Atlantic Hockey honors as he was the first Crusader to earn All-League accolades since 2008. Schmidt was also named the Hockey Commissioners' Association (HCA) National Division I Player of the Month for February. He already has 58 career points.
Vos is looking to continue where he left off last year as he also had a career-best season with 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points. Nunn, who tied for second on the team with a career-best 15 goals last season, is also expected to have a strong senior year. Linsmayer, who has been a mainstay on the ice as he has played in all 114 games during his career, enters the season with 24 goals and 49 assists for 73 career points. Last season, Linsmayer tied for first in Atlantic Hockey with five game-winning goals.
Junior Shayne Stockton (Rochester, N.Y.) and Fletcher, who both missed some games last year due to injury, are expected to be a force on offense this season. Stockton has totaled 44 career points with 16 goals and 28 assists, while Fletcher has 23 goals and 33 assists for 56 points. Junior Mark Williamson (Centennial, Colo.), and sophomores Mike McNamara (Chestnut Hill, Mass.), Jake Youso (International Falls, Minn.) and Tommy Dwyer (Ridgefield, Conn.) are also expected to have strong seasons. Freshmen Brandon Adams (Prospect Heights, Ill.), Tim Driscoll (Hingham, Mass.), Sean Gustin (Stoneham, Mass.), Brett Lubanski (Farmington Hills, Mich.), Castan Sommer (Shrewsbury, Mass.) and Matt Vidal (Manorville, N.Y.) will be looking to contribute right away.
Returning 4; Lost 5; Freshmen 5
The Crusaders return four defensemen and welcome five freshmen. With the graduation of four defensemen who all saw a ton of ice time last season, the Crusaders will need major contributions from their defense. The Crusaders return Zych, junior Jeffrey Reppucci (Newburyport, Mass.), junior Ryan McGrath (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and sophomore Nilan Nagy (Canonsburg, Pa.) to the roster as they have all been key contributors. Freshmen Karl Beckman (Okemos, Mich.), Jake Bolton (Ellington, Conn.), Nathaniel Domagala (Oakville, Ontario), Ben Kaplan (Burlington, Vt.) and Joe McNamara (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) are also expected to have strong freshman seasons.
Returning 3; Lost 0; Freshmen 0
A strength for the Crusaders will be their depth in goal. Sophomore goalie Matt Ginn (Lindsay, Ontario), who was named the HCA's National Rookie of the Month for February last year, was named the Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week three times, Rookie of the Month twice and Goalie of the Week once. He went 17-8-2 as his 17 wins were tied for second on the school's Division I single-season list. His 629 saves were sixth all-time for a Division I season, while his 2.42 goals against average was fourth. Junior Derek Kump (Falmouth, Maine) and Tysowsky also bring experience to the position. Kump, who has missed some time due to injury, has been solid in goal over his first two seasons. Tysowsky enters the season tied for third on the school's all-time Division I career victories list with 18 wins. His 1,280 career saves rank third on the school's all-time Division I career saves list and his 2.88 goals against average ranks fourth.